29th October 2020
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Plan launches campaign to protect girls from online abuse

Author: Jale Richard | Published: Sunday, October 11, 2020

A screenshot of the campaign video

A campaign has been launched to stop cyber-bullying and protect girls and women online.

The #FreeToBeOnline campaign is aimed at compelling social media companies Facebook, Twitter, and Tiktok to create stronger reporting mechanisms for violence and hold perpetrators to account.

So far, over 41 thousand people globally have signed the online petition in solidarity with girls who are standing up against online abuse and harassment.

The campaign launched on Friday comes after research conducted by Plan International in 31 countries including South Sudan, which indicates that more than half of girls surveyed, from around the world, have been harassed and abused online.

According to the charity organization, 14 thousand girls from 22 countries surveyed said they are physically threatened, racially abused, sexually harassed and body shamed.

It says one in four girls abused online feels physically insecure.

Plan International states that in the year of the global coronavirus crisis, more girls and young women spend more time online, yet their voices are being silenced.

The threats and violence, according to Plan International are also a major barrier to gender equality.

“We hope that the girls will be listened to, the girls will be able to understand that whenever they report these issues, the matter will be acted upon and then they can feel safe,” said Otim George the Country Director of Plan International in South Sudan.

“Internet access, and safety online, is fundamentally a human rights issue and an important indicator of gender equality.”

Otim said listening to and understanding girls’ everyday realities will spur social media companies, governments and civil society into action.

“Girls, in all their diversity, need to know that when they’re abused and threatened online, they can report it. That they’ll be listened to. That action will be taken, and that perpetrator will be punished,” Mr. Otim added.

In South Sudan, there are media and legal frameworks on the right to the freedom of expression, reception, and dissemination of information, publication, and access to the press without prejudice to public order, safety, or morals, as prescribed by law.

However, there is no specific social media law that punishes online harassment, leaving girls and young women more vulnerable.

Online harassment in most cases involves verbal threats, insults or defaming statements that affect the victims psychologically.

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